Edinburgh Fringe 2017
A clever adaptation from Lauren Child’s bestselling children’s mystery series.
When the world’s most evil criminal minds conspire to steal a supernatural statue, it’s up to Ruby – special agent, code breaker and 13 year old girl – to come to the rescue and crack the case.
However, the first mystery Ruby had to solve at Assembly’s George Square Box Theatre was how to open the door to get on the stage. It was jammed shut and the would-be super-sleuth was outside in the rain on another glorious Fringe day. Cue embarrassed cough from the girl behind the sound desk and a lot of twiddling with a door handle. Sometimes, even the best sleuths need a bit of a helping hand, or in this case a sturdy left boot, to crack a case.
Door problem solved, Ruby could turn her brilliant, code cracking mind to dealing with all manner of challenges thrown at her by her spymasters and the dastardly criminals intent on evil deeds.
This first stage adaptation of Lauren Child’s bestselling mystery series somehow managed to cram a whole story into an hour using just five actors, a selection of well-designed and operated puppets, a quartet of light sabres and some inventive props and costumes. Acting was in true comic strip style with Ruby sticking to just that role but the other three males and a female getting through a bewildering array of characters and accents, each exquisitely formed and costumed.
Ruby herself was believably young and her close mate, Clancy, looked every inch the gawky, stick thin teenager from the novels. Ruby’s parents were annoyingly self-centred and aspirational, the ‘House Manager’ had that essential air of mystery about him and the gangsters were stereotypically true to type.
As with any Lauren Child plot, this one twists and turns like the dark alleyways it sometimes leads you up, but eventually ensured that those intent on evil doings got their deserved comeuppance. The pace and energy of our hard-working quintet just about held the attention of young and old alike over the course of the hour, although there were one or two signs of bottom shuffling from young males in the audience towards the end – perhaps they prefer their sleuths to be of the male, James Bond type.
This is a very well-drilled production that will appeal to pretty much anyone who has read (or had read to them by Mum, Dad, Granny, etc.) the books, or would be a great way of introducing someone to the works of this well-loved children’s author. Well worth a look.